Meals in 30 Minutes

Great for making on a Friday night after you’ve rolled into camp and want to get dinner on the picnic table in 30 minutes or less.

Sausage and Kale Soup

Last week, around dinner time, I received a text from the mom of one of our Boy Scouts, a scout who is close to Eagling I might add. She sent a picture of her youngest son Nathan standing at the stove, stirring a pot. She wrote, “Sausage and kale soup from scratch! The Cooking Merit Badge is the best thing that ever happened to me!” I couldn’t be more proud or thrilled.

This is one of those moments when you dust off your hands and walk away saying, “My work here is done!” Nathan has embraced what he’s learned from a merit badge and he is applying it to his everyday life. His cooking skills will continue to grow and he’ll use them his whole life. And, just at look at that smile. He’s so proud of himself and his smile could light an entire city!

So, after the rave reviews from his family, we had to make the soup ourselves (and so I could photograph it). This is an easy soup to make in camp. It has a little prep and could easily be gotten onto the picnic table in about 30 minutes, making it a great meal for a Friday night after rolling into camp and setting up.

If you are a kale fan, you should like this soup. It’s warm and filling, but not heavy. We served it with our favorite cornbread. You could also make a crusty artisan bread. Any bread would go nicely.

For the sausage, Nathan used turkey sausage. We used a hot Italian pork sausage. Choose your sausage according to your likes and go as mild or as spicy as you want. The recipe calls for wine, which you could omit and just add more chicken stock. I opted to include the wine and used a chardonnay. For the kale, strip the leaves off the stocks and discard the stocks. The leaves just need a rough chop.

Equipment
6-quart Dutch oven or stock pot, knife, cutting board.

Ingredients
20 ounces sausage, ground or links (remove casings)
1 medium onion, diced
8 cups kale, fresh, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
3 ¼ cups chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can white kidney or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
¼ teaspoon pepper

Prep
Chop the vegetables, drain and rinse the beans, and get everything measured out and ready. Once you start cooking, this one moves pretty quickly. In your Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook the sausage and onion until the sausage is no longer pink. Remove and set aside. Add the kale to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add wine and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the sausage and onions, and the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until kale is tender.

Serves 8

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Beef Stroganoff on a Camp Stove

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This beef stroganoff recipe is a nod to my grandmother’s eastern European roots. This is one of my son’s favorite dishes and was the first recipe he asked me to teach him how to make. It is fast and easy, and I can usually have it on the table in less than 30 minutes. This would make a great Friday night dinner after rolling into camp because it is so quick.

It’s a 2 pot dish so you’ll need a 2 burner camp stove. Traditionally, the pasta for this would be egg noodles, but I like to use rotini. You could also use bow tie, penne or whatever you like. You could even swap out the pasta and serve it over rice. Whatever floats your boat.

You could also jazz this up by adding mushrooms and/or a diced bell pepper. Just chop them and sauté them with the onion. I really want to try that but my son keeps refusing because he loves it just the way it is!

Serve this with a nice green salad or some grilled green vegetables like green beans, zucchini, or asparagus and you have a great meal.

Equipment
2 burner camp stove, 6 quart pot for cooking the pasta, 2 quart pot for the sauce, 2 stirring spoons, measuring spoons.

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef or cut of your choice cubed
1 pound (16 ounces) pasta of choice
1 (10.5 oz) can beef consommé
2 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 medium onion, diced, or 2 tablespoons minced onion
8 ounces sour cream

Prep
In 6 quart pot, start water for pasta. Salt the water. When the water comes to a boil, stir in the pasta, reduce heat and cook until al dente. While you are prepping the pasta, start the beef sauce. In 2 quart pot, on medium heat, brown beef and onion. Add dry ingredients and stir until paste is smooth. Add beef consommé. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until pasta is ready, stirring occasionally. When the pasta is ready, drain it. Stir sour cream into the sauce. Return pasta to the large pot, add sauce and stir to combine.

Serves 6-8 hungry campers.

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White Bean Chicken Chili

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Last month, our Boy Scout troop was camping on the White River and one of my soon-to-be-eagle scouts made this soup for his patrol, the Screamin’ Eagles. The weekend was all about camping and working on the Cooking Merit Badge so our dinner Saturday night was served potluck style, which meant everyone got to try every dish. This soup was such a hit. I blinked and it was gone. I was grateful for the small cup I managed to get before it disappeared. And the scout, being the humble guy that he is, gave all the credit to his mom’s recipe. I reminded him; however, that he was the one who executed the recipe and he did a fantastic job.

I have to admit that I was a little concerned at first when I saw and smelled the amount of cilantro that goes in because I’m not a big cilantro fan. But after simmering 30 minutes, the cilantro really mellows out and provides the signature flavor of this dish. I’m not sure what it is about white beans, but for me, they are a comfort food. This is such a satisfying soup but it is also light so it’s perfect for a cold winter or warm summer night. When I made this a couple weekends later, I served it with my cornbread.

For the cornbread recipe, please see my blog post: “Cookie’s Killer Cornbread.”

It took me about 20 minutes to get everything prepped and then it was everyone into the pool. Bring it up to a boil and then turn the heat down and let it simmer for 30 minutes. It is that simple to make. Serve with cornbread, quesadillas, a cheese scone or biscuit, and a salad and you’ll have a great meal.

Equipment
4 quart Dutch oven or stockpot, strainer, cutting board, knife, stirring spoon and/or ladle, measuring spoons and cups.

Ingredients
2-2½ cups of chicken, cooked, fresh or 2 (13oz) cans (drained), diced or shredded
3 (14.5 oz) cans of white beans, drained and rinsed
2 (14.5 oz) cans of chicken broth
½ cup carrots, finely chopped
½ cup celery, finely chopped
½ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
½ cup onion, finely chopped
¼ cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika

Prep
Prep all your ingredients. It took me about 20 minutes. Combine all the ingredients in the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Makes about 8 1-cup servings

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Meatball Sub Pull-Aparts

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Let me just say right up front, this is crazy good! Okay, now that we have that out of the way, we can continue.

This is a warm, hearty meal that tastes amazing. From the rich and flavorful Italian meatballs and marinara sauce to the velvety, gooey mozzarella cheese to the fluffy and crunchy bits of French bread, this was so yummy! Serve it with a fresh green Italian or Caesar salad and you have a winner dinner. Everyone loved this.

It is super simple to make. It only has 5 ingredients and it bakes in about 30 minutes. It really is just assemble and bake. I think all my scouting followers out there will really like this one. Even a patrol of young scouts could make this easily.

This recipe calls for store-bought meatballs, jarred marinara, and refrigerated French bread or you could make your own from scratch. In camp, you could bake this in a 12-inch Dutch oven or, at home, you could use a 9×13 casserole dish.

Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven or 9×13 casserole dish, large bowl, large spoon for mixing and serving, knife, cutting board.

Ingredients
½ bag of Italian meatballs or about 30 golf-ball sized meatballs if you’re making them from scratch
1½ cups marinara sauce
2 cups mozzarella, grated
¼ cup Parmesan, grated
1 tube refrigerated French bread, sliced into medallions and then halved

Prep
If you’re looking for easy clean up, you could foil line your Dutch oven for this one. Spray the foil or the casserole dish with cooking spray. Start 25 coals in a chimney.

Unwrap the refrigerated French bread loaf and slice into medallions about ½-inch thick and then cut each medallion in half. In a large bowl, add the meatballs, marinara sauce, French bread bits, and about half of the mozzarella and toss together like a salad until everything is coated with the marinara sauce. Pour it all into the Dutch oven. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and the Parmesan on top.

Bake in a 350°F oven, using 17 coals on the lid and 8 underneath, for about 30 minutes or until it’s brown and bubbly.

Serves 6-8

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Chili Quick and Simple

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Yesterday was National Chili Day! We love chili and this chili goes together fast and easy. It would be a great meal for a Friday night after you’ve rolled into your site and set up camp. It’s also a hot, slightly spicy, hearty meal. You can get this on the picnic table in about 30 minutes, which should leave plenty of time to eat, clean up, and get started on the evening campfire.

It has nice, fresh tomato flavor with just a little kick from the green chiles and chili powder. I prefer to use petite diced tomatoes. Our protein of choice was ground beef and we chose to use kidney and black beans. We used a can of tomato sauce, but if you prefer a thicker chili, you could use tomato paste instead.

If you’re home, you could also make this in a slow cooker. Brown the meat on the stove top before adding it and the other ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook the chili on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

In camp, if you have a little more time, this would be great to start a little earlier and let it simmer for an hour or two. We made my awesome cornbread to go with it. If I wasn’t crunched for time, I would probably start the chili and then make the cornbread, which bakes for an hour, and let the chili simmer while the cornbread bakes.

For the cornbread recipe, please see my blog post: “Cookie’s Cornbread.”

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For a fully loaded, awesome, rich flavor, 4-bean, slow-cook chili, please see my blog post: “Cookie’s 4 Bean Chili Con Carne.”

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But if you’re looking for a tasty and fast to the picnic table meal, this one is a winner.

Equipment
4-quart pot or 10-inch Dutch oven, cutting board, knife, colander, tablespoon, stirring/serving spoon.

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef (or protein of choice)
2 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 (15 ounce) cans beans, drained and rinsed (black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, or a combination)
1 small white onion, diced
2 tablespoons chili powder

Prep
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, sauté the onions in a little bit of butter and then brown the ground beef, stirring frequently. Drain any excess grease. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the onion is cooked and softened to your liking. Serve with shredded cheese, chopped green onions, sour cream, cilantro, etc. Serves 4-6.

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Not Your Mama’s Mac and Cheese

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Today is National Macaroni Day and this mac and cheese is one of my favorites. In the picture above I used rotini, but that’s only because I really like rotini. I love the way the sauce gets trapped in the spirals.

This mac and cheese definitely falls into the comfort food category, but it’s not your typical mac and cheese. It’s warm, cheesy, creamy and loaded with fall flavors. The sharp white cheddar combines nicely with the Gruyere, which is similar to Swiss. The bay leaves and the nutmeg remind me of autumn.

While the flavors are a little more “grown up” kids still like it. Last fall, we made this for 120 youth at a weekend retreat. All the serving bowls came back empty!

If you wanted to make this in your camp kitchen, you could cook the pasta at home or in camp and combine all the ingredients in a Dutch oven. I’d recommend a 12-inch for the batch below. If you camp with carnivores like I tend to, you could also add a protein like cubed ham or sliced salami. You could also add a few vegetables if you wanted to bulk it up. However you decide to make it, this is a great mac and cheese.

Equipment
4-quart baking dish or 12-inch Dutch oven

Ingredients
16 ounces (1 pound) macaroni, rotini or other short pasta
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup flour
4 cups whole milk
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
3 cups shredded Gruyere cheese

Prep
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until not quite al dente. Drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan or a Dutch oven over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and continue whisking 2 minutes, then whisk in the milk. Add the bay leaf, nutmeg and salt, and simmer about 8 minutes, whisking occasionally, until thick. Remove the bay leaf and stir in 4 cups cheddar and the Gruyere. If you’re using a Dutch oven, stir in the pasta and top with remaining cheddar or butter a 4-quart baking dish; add the pasta mixture and top with the remaining cheddar. Bake in a 400°F oven, using 19 coals on top and 10 underneath, for 15 minutes.

Serves 8

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Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

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If it wasn’t for the rice, this would be an awesome one-pot meal. But we love to serve it with rice so it’s a two-pot meal. This is a family favorite at home and at camp, and when I’ve made it on scouting trips, it’s been a huge success with adults and youth. In fact, it’s on the menu for this weekend’s camping trip by unanimous vote!

It’s bursting with flavors and loaded with healthy vegetables. We love it. It’s one of my son’s favorite dinners. This was the dish that taught him to love broccoli! How about that?!

This recipe has many ingredients and looks a little scary at first glance, but let me assure you it goes together very fast and easy. The key is to get everything prepped and ready before you start cooking, and this can be done in camp or at home before you go. And, with everything prepped ahead of time, dinner can be on the table in less than 30 minutes, which would make it a great choice for a Friday night roll-in-to-camp-meal.

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Equipment
Pot for the rice; large, deep skillet with a lid or 12-inch Dutch oven; knife; cutting boards; small bowl; measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients for Stir Fry
1½ pounds boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
1 (5 oz can) water chestnuts, sliced, drained
1 (5 oz can) bamboo shoots, sliced, drained
1 (14 oz can) bean sprouts, drained
2 tablespoon sesame oil
Fresh broccoli florets (as many as desired)

Ingredients for Sauce
1 (10.5 oz) can beef consommé
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup pineapple juice (drain an 8 oz can)
2 garlic cloves, minced, or ½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 medium onion, chopped, or 2 tablespoons minced onion
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Prep
Drain the bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts. Drain the pineapple for the juice and, if you want to, add the pineapple to the stir fry. Cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets, chop the onion and garlic (if using fresh), slice the meat (if you haven’t actually purchased stir-fry meat), and stir together all your sauce ingredients. The vegetables and meat can be bagged separately and the sauce can be poured into a bottle or container. Everything goes into the cooler for the car ride to camp.

When you’re ready to start cooking, set out all your ingredients and then start your water for the rice.

On medium heat, in a large, deep skillet or 12-inch Dutch oven, brown the meat in the sesame oil. (You don’t have to fully cook the meat, just get it browned; it will continue cooking with the other ingredients.)

Add the sauce ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer with the lid off for about 5 minutes. Sauce will thicken and reduce slightly.

Sprinkle over top the bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, broccoli florets, and the pineapple if you choose to. Put a lid on, reduce heat and simmer until the broccoli is fork tender or to your liking (I prefer my broccoli a little al dente).

By the time this is done, your rice should be ready. Serve over hot cooked rice (long-grain, jasmine or sticky). Bring extra soy sauce for adding at the table.

Serves 7-8.

 

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Pizza Perfect Pull-Aparts

pizza-pull-apartsYesterday, we were back up at Camp Sheppard teaching Dutch oven cooking to Boy Scouts and their Scoutmasters. It was a whole lot of fun despite the windy and rainy weather.

I’ve often found that even when camping in the worst of conditions, it’s the people you are with who make it a great experience. It also makes a huge difference if you are well prepared.

We made pizza pull-aparts and they were a huge hit. I mean, who doesn’t like pizza?! And, with the weather being so icky, these were warm, tasty, filling, and comforting. I’m not sure I’d ever classify pizza as comfort food but, yesterday, these definitely fell into that category.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can make it any way you want. If you have more than one Dutch oven, you could make multiple kinds (meat lovers, pepperoni, cheese, vegetarian, etc.). You can use whatever cheese you like. You can use pizza sauce from a jar or make your own. You could even make your own pizza dough in camp or at home and bring it in a cooler. The possibilities are endless, so have fun improvising!

The only thing you need to be mindful of is the amount of sauce you use. If you don’t use enough, the “pizza” will be dry; use too much and it will be sloppy. We used half of a 14-ounce jar of sauce, which was about 7 ounces and I think we could have used a smidge more sauce. My two teenagers said to double the pepperoni and the bacon bits so I adjusted those numbers up. They also said to add more cheese, but if you look at the picture, it looks like it’s drowning in cheese! So, here’s an adjusted version of what we made yesterday. You can add more cheese if you want to.

Equipment

12-inch Dutch oven

Mixing bowl

Mixing/serving spoon

Measuring spoons

Knife

Cutting board

Aluminum foil

Ingredients

2 (13.8 oz.) tubes Pillsbury Refrigerated Pizza Dough

1 (5 oz.) bag pepperoni minis

½ pkg. (17 slices) Canadian bacon, halved

1 (5 oz.) bag bacon bits

6 links fully cooked sausage, chopped

½ green pepper, chopped

1 cup pizza sauce

⅛ tsp. garlic powder

⅛ tsp. paprika

½ tsp. Italian seasoning

⅛ tsp onion powder

¼ tsp. basil

1 (2-cup) bag shredded mozzarella cheese

Non-stick cooking spray

Directions

Line Dutch oven with foil and apply a thin coating of non-stick cooking spray. Prep 25+ coals.

Open pizza containers; do not unroll pizza dough. Cut pizza roll into 8 slices and quarter each slice. Roll these bits into balls being careful not to overwork the dough. Cut Canadian bacon pieces in half, chop up your sausage links and dice the green pepper. This could all be done at home and brought to camp in resealable bags or plastic containers.

In a bowl, combine pizza sauce and spices. Add all the other ingredients, except for the cheese, and gently mix (you just want to get all the pizza dough bits coated with sauce and the ingredients mixed). Pour into Dutch oven and arrange the bits into one layer.

Bake at 350°F, using 17 coals on the lid and 8 underneath, for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Top with shredded cheese, let melt for five minutes, and serve. Serves 4-6

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Winner, Winner, Chicken Chili Dinner!

chicken_chiliFor a weekend camp out, typically we roll into camp on Friday night. The vehicles barf out the gear and we commence setting up tents, camp kitchens, rain flies (here in the Northwest that’s standard-operating-procedure), and all our other little creature comforts. Dinner needs to be fast and easy because we don’t want to be eating and cleaning up at midnight. I, for one, will turn into a pumpkin if I stay up that late!

Here is a super easy, hot dinner that you can have on the picnic table in 20 minutes! It serves 4-6 so multiply it up if you’re feeding a larger group.

For home, if you keep these ingredients in your pantry, this can be a quick, simple dinner on those nights everyone is running in different directions and you need a fast, hot, hearty dinner.

Equipment

One pot and something to stir and serve with.

Ingredients

2 cups (16 oz) of your favorite salsa. You could also use 2 prepared packages of Backpackers Pantry Salsa.

28 oz of canned chicken (draining is optional depending on how much liquid you want). The amount is approximate depending on the size of your cans. You could also poach a couple of chicken breasts at home, shred them, and bring them in your cooler.

1 can (15 oz) pinto or black beans, drained. I like to use black beans because they go so well with chicken and I like the contrasting color they add to the soup. I can’t help myself; I’m a visual person.

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon pepper

salt to taste (I did not use any salt at all and I thought it didn’t need it, but depending on the type of salsa and chicken you use, and your taste buds, you may decide to add some salt.)

Prep

Combine salsa, chicken, beans, and spices in a pot or Dutch oven. Cook over medium-high heat for about 10-15 minutes, until ingredients are thoroughly heated through and you’ve shredded all the chicken. Have a taste-test along the way and add more spices to your liking.

Serve with chips, tortillas, shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole or whatever else you like.

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